The 7 Powers of Questions
I’ve heard lots of questions over the years. Some were small. Others brilliant. Some reflected sincere but dead-end pursuits. Smart people ask short-sighted questions when they focus on the wrong things.
“What should you have done?” belittles sincere effort and past wisdom. Don’t ‘should on’ people. Instead, press into future possibilities. “What will you do differently next time?” Can you feel the respect and focus of ‘next time’ questions?
The 7 powers of questions:
- Limit answers.
- Set direction.
- Create focus.
- Stimulate creativity.
- Encourage reflection.
- Strengthen relationships.
- Inspire action.
Drucker’s 5 most important questions:
- What is our mission? – Clarify purpose and direction. Establish a common goal.
- Who is our customer? – Design products of services that meet the needs and expectations of customers.
- What does the customer value? – Identify and prioritize the key features and benefits that customers are looking for.
- What are our results? – Measure and monitor performance. Identify areas of improvement.
- What is our plan? – Develop clear, actionable plans for achieving goals. Ensure alignment and focus on execution.
Read: The Five Most Important Questions You will ever Ask About Your Organization.
Tip: Forward-facing curiosity coupled with a learner’s attitude solves many leadership struggles.
The question I have never heard:
- How can I hold people accountable? (Sometimes means how can I get people to do things they don’t want to do.)
- How can I motivate people?
- What’s the best way to confront a problem employee?
- How can I have tough conversations?
- How can I invite constructive dissent in meetings?
- How can I do more of what matters?
- How can I fix my boss? (Not usually asked that directly.)
I’ve never heard anyone ask, “How can I love people?” Not one. I wonder if our curiosity is misguided.
What do you need to ask that enables you to move forward with gusto?
1 Simple Strategy to Design Smart Questions
I wonder if people are afraid to ask that last question, and prefer to dance around it. Who would ask that in a executive planning meeting, for example? However, I find it interesting that I’ve heard many leaders come close with things like “How can we better serve, not just our clients but our employees?” Or “How can we better practice servant leadership?”
Thanks John. I think many are motivated by love, but we feel reluctant to use “love” language. I don’t blame people. Love can mean so many things. There may be some usefulness in asking the question directly. It feels like a reminder that we do love people and want to serve them well.
The common cop-out word is “care,” although the execution of care frequently devolves into something patronizing or lacking true respect and self-sacrifice. Thank you for continually pounding away at the true application of our moral charge.
What can we do that’s never been done before?
What can we create that the customer will love?
Thanks Paul. What can we do that’s never been done… that feels like a pretty big question. Perhaps a question that constantly percolates.
I am not a huge Tony Robbins fan. However, I found a lot of value in one of his quotes. “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. To others, and yourself.”
I totally believe that. It feels like life is the answer to a question. I find some people haven’t answered the basic question, “What do I want?”
Robbin’s quote suggests the importance of focused curiosity.
During a difficult time caring for my mother during her paliative care I was given wise words from a seemingly crusty old nurse on the ward. She told me, “Do what’s best for your mom today, and don’t be afraid to change that tomorrow.” She didn’t actually ask your question. She understood that It Was the question, and in my time of numerous difficult choices, she reasured me that not one answer fits… it actually changes from moment to moment. It was so reasuring to hear from a ‘professional’ that I was loving well… moment by moment.
Thanks Peter. I think many people are like you. They have good intentions. A little reassurance goes a long way.
very powerful suggestion fr0m the nurse.
I have only heard one CEO ask that question: Bob Chapman of Barry Wehmiller
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